Don’t Drink Your Calories

Sugar-sweetened beverages are everywhere these days and include soft drinks, flavored coffee beverages, juice drinks, sports and energy drinks. These are often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or sugar.

Consuming liquid calories on a regular basis can amount to hundreds of non-nutritive calories and excess pounds which can lead to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and hypertension. The average American consumes approximately 23 teaspoons of added sugar or 385 calories daily. About 50 percent of added sugar in the diet comes from sugar-sweetened beverages, amounting to 39 pounds of added sugar just from sugar-sweetened beverages yearly.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women should consume less than 6 teaspoons (24 gm) or 100 calories from added sugar daily and men should consume less than 9 teaspoons (36 gm) or 150 calories daily. A 12 fl. oz. soda contains approximately 150 calories and 10 gm sugar, surpassing the AHA recommendation. It is important to know that when sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed they are not as satiating as those in solid form, and studies show that people that consume sugary beverages don’t always compensate for their high caloric content by eating less food, which can lead to weight gain.

For disease prevention and to keep you waistline in check, if one prefers to consume a liquid calories, it’s important to keep intake in moderation and incorporate those calories into your daily allotment.

Instead of having a large drink, choose a small size as an occasional treat instead of as a regular occurrence. Consider swapping out non-nutritive liquid calories for diet, or low-calorie beverages, unsweetened tea, iced tea, water, seltzer water or carbonated water. Flavor up your water with fruit, cucumbers, mint or a wedge of lemon.  For coffee drinks, swap out high calorie creamer for skim milk and skip the whipped or syrup topping. These little changes can amount to a large amount of calories saved.

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